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LostInParadise's avatar

How might pets have changed the course of history?

Asked by LostInParadise (27910points) July 27th, 2015

I just came across this story about how Newton’s pet dog is believed to have caused his manuscript on gravity to be burnt to a crisp. It got me to wondering about other ways that pets might have altered history. What if Alexander Fleming’s dog knocked over his petri dishes containing bacteria being attacked by penicillin? See if you can imagine other scenarios. Is there some way that a pet might have altered history for the better?

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30 Answers

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Well, Mrs O’Leary’s cow burned down most of a city. If a cow counts as a pet.

longgone's avatar

Pavlov’s dogs taught us a lot about learning.

DoNotKnow's avatar

What about any powerful cat owners in the past? I suppose toxoplasma gondii could have had some influnce in these peoples’ lives and decisions?

zenvelo's avatar

Maybe if Julius Caesar’s dog didn’t like to swim, he wouldn’t have crossed the Rubicon.

And if Hannibal’s elephants hadn’t liked snow, he wouldn’t have invaded Italy.

Strauss's avatar

And then there’s always Schrödinger’s cat.

Coloma's avatar

If man had not domesticated horses around 3,500–4,000 years ago we would not have had the transportation they provided which would have greatly changed history. We might not have discovered many new areas, been stuck with foot/boat travel only and hand to hand ground combat in all wars. Carrying all supplies on the backs of men or in foot carts.
Horses are the most important domestic animal/pet in history.

Now we just keep them around for pleasure riding and pets.

Berserker's avatar

I agree with Coloma about the horses. Not having horses before cars were invented would have been akin to man never having invented the wheel.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, shoot. Mrs. Oleary’s cow was a hoax. :(

In 1893, however, Ahern admitted he had made the story up.[3 The official report at the time stated “whether it originated from a spark blown from a chimney on that windy night, or was set on fire by human agency, we are unable to determine”.[2] Mrs O’Leary herself stated that she had been in bed when the fire started, and she had no idea what set it off. Daniel “Pegleg” Sullivan, the first person to raise the alarm, reported that on seeing a fire in the barn, he ran across the street to free the animals, which included a cow owned by Sullivan’s mother. He then informed the O’Learys, who were at home.

janbb's avatar

Balto led the dog sled team that brought medicine to alleviate the flu to Nome, Alaska when the snow prevented the train from getting through. There is a statue of him in Central Park.

LostInParadise's avatar

@Dutchess_III Darn! That made such a good story.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I know! I know!

Strauss's avatar

@gorillapaws, @Dutchess_III, It seems like a lot of our standards are based on animal or body parts!

ucme's avatar

If Hitler had not perched his pet leech atop his lip, then the daft bastard may not have been mocked to the point of madness & Europe could have been at peace during those crazy years in the forties.

Here2_4's avatar

Many pets have saved lives. Cats have called 911. Dogs wake people because of someone having seizures, or because there is smoke.
Here’s a what if. Suppose Abe Lincoln had a cat he refused to be without. It might have stood on his lap and hissed when it saw a gun, or if he had a bird it might have even shouted a warning.

longgone's avatar

^ “Cats have called 911”?

Coloma's avatar

My cats are too lazy to call 911 they would just sleep until they realized I was not getting up to open the Fancy feast at 4 o’ clock, then there would be some seriously bummed out pussies. haha

longgone's avatar

Oh, all right. Didn’t realize the cat had received training. It doesn’t surprise me that a cat can be trained to make a call. Cool, though. Thanks for clarifying!

Dutchess_III's avatar

I just watched the first one…it was a total accident.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I still think it was the cow. They made up the other story to avoid the lawsuits.

janbb's avatar

The cats are not changing the course of history though.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I’m still puzzling out Abe Lincoln’s cat…

Here2_4's avatar

Puzzling why? If my cat hissed I would turn to see why.
Saving a life an surely change history.
They were not all accidents. I picked a variety for the point of showing a difference, and like I said, a couple just because they were funny.
Can’t change history? Suppose Robin Williams, or Whitney Houston had a cat like that? Who knows, maybe we have missed out on some major life changing cure or innovation because someone who died didn’t have a phone dialing cat? By the way, that one man lived because he trained his cat to use the speed dial, and the rescue cat got adopted, so accidental or not, it worked for them.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I fail to see how a cat hissing could have saved Lincoln’s life. If the cat hissed every time it saw a gun, it would be hissing constantly. Think of the times they lived in.

You keep coming back to cats…dogs are far more likely to save a life than a cat. Cats mostly ignore you unless they want to be fed.

Blondesjon's avatar

All pets are a part of history. They are all parts of lives that touch other lives. When you remove them from the equation you change the timeline.

Here2_4's avatar

I mentioned cats, @longgone questioned my mention, so I provided links, but I also included as many links to dogs. I am only responding to what is being said to me. I mentioned cats initially because people tend to be less likely to know about those stories than when dogs save lives. Other pets have done such too. Never let it be said I am not an equal opportunity animal lover.
http://www.mnn.com/family/pets/stories/7-heroic-pets-that-saved-lives

Coloma's avatar

Here’s a famous war horse, the little darling “Reckless” from the Korean war.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=pD-F_zajPlk

LostInParadise's avatar

Two carrier pigeons regarded as war heroes

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